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Rhode Island Online Casino Bill Ready For House Floor Consideration Thursday

Written By Matthew Kredell on June 14, 2023
Rhode Island Online Casino Bill Moves Toward Approval

Rhode Island is moving quickly toward the legalization of online casino.

The House Finance Committee advanced companion online bills from each chamber to the floor by a 10-2 vote Tuesday.

The committee amended HB 6348 to match SB 948, the bill passed 30-4 by the Senate last week.

Both pieces of online casino legislation are on the House calendar for possible final passage Thursday.

RI legislation sprinting to the finish line

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Rep. Greg Constantino only introduced Rhode Island online casino legislation in late April.

But with the Senate president as a sponsor and support from House Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, the bill has been fast-tracked.

Upon introduction, Ruggerio and Constantino released a joint news release saying Bally’s Corp. requested the bill and seeks “to enhance state revenue and better position the state’s casinos in the competitive New England gaming market.”

Bally’s owns and operates two state-run casinos, Twin River Lincoln Casino and Twin River Tiverton Casino, partnering with game vendor International Gaming Technology (IGT). Constantino’s district includes Bally’s Twin River Lincoln Casino.

Details of Rhode Island online casino bill

Like sports betting, Rhode Island’s iGaming bill would create one online casino app run through the Rhode Island State Lottery.

Robert Carr of the House Fiscal Advisory Office answered questions about the bill in House Finance. Carr said people in Rhode Island could merge their accounts to bet on sports and online casino from the same app.

Other key details of the Rhode Island online casino legislation:

  • Appoints the Rhode Island Lottery to oversee online casino.
  • Sets March 1, 2024, as the launch date for Rhode Island online casino.
  • Taxes online slots at 61% and table games at 15.5%.
  • Sets the minimum age requirement for iGaming at 21 years old (all other forms of Rhode Island gaming are 18).
  • Requires use of live dealers for online table games.
  • Allows Rhode Island to enter into multistate agreements with other states to share iGaming liquidity. This would make a big difference for online poker in a small state such as Rhode Island.

Many changes made in the Senate and replicated in the House were recommendations from Lottery Director Mark Furcolo. The tax rates now match in-person casino play in the state.

Furcolo originally had constitutionality concerns with the bill. But the addition of live dealers on casino premises simulcast over closed-circuit cameras seems to have garnered the lottery’s support.

“Yes, there was a provision added that there has to be a live dealer and that addressed the lottery’s concerns,” Carr said.

In-State College Sports Betting Also On Calendar

Rhode Island will consider another gaming bill Wednesday. Also introduced by Senate President Ruggerio, SB 3 amends the sports betting law passed in 2018 to allow betting on in-state college teams.

Ruggerio said the bill was a response to betting on Rhode Island college teams being allowed in neighboring Massachusetts.

After passing the Senate in late March, the bill made it through House Finance last week and is ready for a House floor vote.

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Written by
Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 after federal passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act disrupted his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker. He has since interviewed more than 300 lawmakers around the country and written extensively about online gambling legislation. He has led coverage of bills to legalize online gambling in most states. A lifelong Angeleno and USC journalism alum, Matthew started his career working as a sportswriter for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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